This teaching tool page covers two related resources: Minecraft and MinecraftEdu. Minecraft is a stand-alone video game that can be used educationally, but since it was not designed for these purposes there will be some challenges. MinecraftEdu is a custom-built modification of Minecraft that gives teachers and students more robust controls and features for designing and orchestrating learning experiences. It also streamlines the server creation and hosting process. And while MinecraftEdu increases the learning curve slightly, we think it provides a set of tools that teachers will find indispensable. For more informal or home use, the "retail" Minecraft should be sufficient.
Lesson Plan Overview
This lesson plan is meant as the first lesson when using MinecraftEdu. It will help you get your students up and running in Minecraft, navigating the world, building their own creations, and collaborating with each other to explore and solve puzzles. In this lesson, you lead your class through a Tutorial World with six zones. The first five zones teach students basic skills they will need in MinecraftEdu, and the sixth zone opens them up to the world of Minecraft where they can practice their new skills in an open-ended environment.
The Tutorial World will take about 90 minutes to complete with novice players or lower-mid elementary schoolers. It could take as little as 20 minutes with advanced players.
Students will be able to:
- Navigate the world of Minecraft and build their own content
- Collaborate and communicate with peers to design and solve puzzles in MinecraftEdu’s Tutorial World
After completing this lessons students will be ready for more complex assignments, core subject-specific challenges, and open-ended play.
Before you start:
- Buy MinecraftEdu and make sure you’re set up. Check out the MinecraftEdu wiki for help installing and getting started.
- Make sure you test your setup before you start this lesson, simulating connecting to the server as a student and as a teacher.
- We strongly recommend that you use a real mouse, not a touchpad.
- Learn the basics of Minecraft yourself (The video above helps!)
- You should play through the Tutorial World yourself first, before you do it with your class.
Before you get on the computers with your students, discuss with your class why you’re using Minecraft in school. Set students’ expectations that the experience of playing Minecraft in school is different than playing at home. When playing at home you do what you want, but in a class you may have to follow specific assignments. When playing at home you have the freedom to do inappropriate things without consequences, but breaking a rule at school will have a consequence. Make rules and goals for the classroom community. Ask your students what should be against the rules in Minecraft? (Stealing each other’s items, blowing stuff up, etc. ). Follow the golden rule: Treat others as you want to be treated!
This lesson assumes that you’ve set up MinecraftEdu for yourself and your students and this is your first day using it in the classroom.
Step 0: Start a MinecraftEdu server using the “Load Tutorial World” button.
Zone 1: The Basics
Objective: Move the player character and navigate in the world.
- Invite the students to join the world.
- Have students read the signs and follow the blue line that shows them around Zone 1. Students learn to move with WASD keys and look around using the mouse. They learn how to jump with spacebar.
- Following the blue line, students find their way to the “training valley” and are directed to enter the Obstacle Course.
- Teachers should be mindful of kids who are struggling with controls. One way to help is to have a kid who’s bumping into walls follow the teacher’s character around to practice movement. It’s better to help a student inside the game rather than standing behind them and telling them how to move or taking over their computer.
- It’s sometimes difficult for students to keep their view forward; they look up or down when they are moving. It’s good to introduce the crosshair right in the middle of the screen - tell students to put the crosshair where they want to go.
Zone 2: Obstacle Course
Objective: Demonstrate competency with basic movement controls.
- In this zone students will move from one side of the building to the other side, toward the black and white checker flag wall.
- To get through the course, students will have to climb a staircase, then a ladder, then make a small jump, then a bigger jump, then swim in still water, and finally swim in flowing water.
- Students exit the building at the checkered wall.
- Point out the checkered wall so students don’t get turned around while they are moving through the course.
- The big jump is challenging and may take many tries - students will need to run and jump in a fluid motion.
- Make sure students don’t take their finger off the movement keys or their hand off the mouse when jumping. Suggest using their thumb to jump.
- If this zone is too challenging for a student, another student could help, or you can teleport the student past the hard jump. You press ‘p’ to access the teacher menu, and switch to the user control menu. Then select the student and click ‘teleport player to my location.’
- Swimming against the current is the culmination of many skills: students will hold down spacebar to swim, hold ‘w’ to go forward, and steer with the mouse. That’s why it’s the last challenge in this zone!
Zone 3 : The Brickyard
- In order to enter this zone, students must find a hidden switch to open a locked door. The door is obvious - it’s in a little tunnel straight ahead after exiting the Obstacle Course. The switch is not as obvious - it is around the corner to the right of the building. Students will break the glass to access the switch.
- Students explore the new surroundings and see where they can interact with the world.
- The challenge is the escape the Brickyard. The exit is in a non-obvious place - students need to follow a narrow walkway to get to it.
- When students get to the exit, they discover it is locked, and they have to find another switch to open it. (This switch is hidden in a secret passage below and to the left of the exit).
- Students go out the exit and navigate a maze. They use the colors on the floor to help them navigate.
- ▪Encourage students to READ! Reading signs will help them figure out puzzles.
- ▪Students might get stuck because they see the exit above them, but won’t know they have to follow walkway to get there. Steer students toward the sandy hill to help them get on the walkway.
- ▪If students are having trouble finding the switch for the exit, tell them to look for the red torch. This will lead them to the secret passage.
- ▪After hitting the exit switch, there is a shortcut ladder to the exit that students can take.
Zone 4: Digging and Building
Objective: Collect blocks and place blocks to create a simple structure.
- After the maze, students descend a ladder into the digging and building zone.
- Here they find 15 lanes, that lead to 15 doors. You can assign your student a number that corresponds to the lane that they should go down. Split students up so that they don’t all go down the same lane, so all students get a chance to dig and build.
- Signs will instruct the students to dig up blocks from large piles of dirt.
- They will then arrange the blocks to reach doors on a raised platform. Students usually make a simple staircase, but there are other ways to complete this task.
- Students go through the door and navigate through passageways and ladders back up the surface.
- You dig by holding down the left mouse button, not by clicking repeatedly.
- You need to pick up blocks by walking over them.
- When you place blocks, aim the crosshair where you want the block to go and click the right mouse button. Make sure you’re not too close or too far away from where you want to put the block.
- It’s helpful to look at what you built from different angles so you can see it in three dimensions.
- To switch what you’re holding, either press the number keys or spin the mouse wheel. You will see what you’re holding on the bottom right side of the screen where your character’s hand is.
- You might want to line students up at the end of the zone, so they can go up the ladder in line.
Zone 5: Shapes
Objective: Demonstrate competency at building and learn about different types of building materials and tools.
- Students walk down a few staircases and enter a large area with different number areas.
- Assign students to work in teams of 2-4, and have each team stand under a different number on the wall.
- In each area there are piles of four different building materials, a chest with tools and torches, and eight different sample shapes.
- Instruct students to copy each shape in the space next to it, using the same building materials that the original shape has.
- When they are done, allow students to enter the dark tunnel opposite the entry. They will need to bring torches from the chests to light their way.
- Use your judgment when you think your students have had enough practice; if you think students have mastered building shapes, they can move on even if they didn’t finishing replicating each example shape.
- Sometimes you need the right tools to dig up materials. For example, you must use a pickaxe to collect stone.
- Cobblestone and gravel look similar but behave differently. Gravel will fall if you try to place it in the air, but cobblestone won’t.
- Some shapes require that you place extra blocks at the bottom of the shape in order to reach higher up, and then remove the bottom blocks when you’re done.
- It’s easy to accidentally leave your area, so make sure students are in the correct areas.
Zone 6: The Campground
Objective: Practice what you’ve learned through the tutorial.
- Exit the dark tunnel and follow the signs toward the Campground. At this point the tutorial becomes less linear, and it’s possible to escape into the open Minecraft world.
- There is an optional cave along the way students can explore, but it’s easy to get lost in there so beware! (You might have to teleport students out of the cave if they are lost).
- Enter the Campground and follow the path that leads toward a central area with picnic tables.
- At this point you should turn on student building, which gives students the freedom to modify the world. Press ‘p’ and go to the Player menu. Then click check the box to “Allow student building.”
- At this point, decide what the best activity for your class is: teach crafting, go mining, sit around the fire and tell stories, decorate bunk houses, build your own houses, go boating in the lake, etc.
- This is a good time to return to community guidelines and rules you established before playing.
- Decide if you want to do individual, group, or team activities.
- Have the students suggest ideas for activities, or have more experienced players lead activities. For example, students can create scavenger hunts for each other.
These three tutorial videos will help you through this lesson plan and the Tutorial World:
Now that you and your students have the basics of MinecraftEdu, you can start exploring more features and content. Check out the MinecraftEdu wiki for more ideas.
Common Core - English Language Arts
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA. R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Speaking & Listening
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
1. Creativity and Innovation
Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processesCreate original works as a means of personal or group expressionUse models and simulations to explore complex systems and issuesIdentify trends and forecast possibilities
2. Communication and Collaboration
Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and mediaCommunicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formatsContribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems
3. Research and Information Fluency
Plan strategies to guide inquiryProcess data and report results
4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigationPlan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a projectCollect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisionsUse multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions
5. Digital Citizenship
Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
6. Technology Operations and Concepts
Understand and use technology systemsSelect and use applications effectively and productivelyTroubleshoot systems and applicationsTransfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies